Category Archives: Dairy-free

Bean Prep: Sorting and Rinsing

Beans seem to be a recurring topic here, but why not?  They’re frugal, nutritious, and so versatile.  And they can even be sprouted for more nutrition – but that’s another post.  Today I just want to talk about the prep work involved BEFORE the cooking starts.

 

For my non-bean-converted friends: are you intimidated by the steps involved in preparing beans?  Or do you just think you don’t like the taste? 

 

I wish I had some great segue here, but I don’t – I really just hope to remove the intimidation.  I’ve loved beans ever since I can remember, so I can only urge you to keep trying them different ways.  Baked beans, chicken tortilla soup, and white chili are some ideas to get you started.  And you already like hummus, right?

 

If you’re new to using dried beans, sorting might be the most confusing step.  It doesn’t take long, and it can be kinda fun (especially if you have some OCD tendencies.)  There are many ways you can do this, but here are some methods I’ve used in the past:

 

- Take small handfuls and inspect carefully

 

- Spread the beans out in one layer on the counter or in a large flat pan with sides (like a jelly roll pan) so you can see all the beans (and any foreign objects) all at once

 

- If you’re using a slow cooker, you can pour the beans onto the clear glass lid and spot the misfits pretty easily (although you can’t tell in this picture):

 

lid-with-beans

 

Here are a few things I sorted out of some pintos awhile back:

 

beans-and-pebbles1

 

Those black pebbles are commonly found in a lot of beans, but you DEFINITELY want to fish them out – the one time I didn’t sort my beans, I ended up with a really gritty-tasting soup because those pebbles are concentrated field dirt.  I usually find more in black beans than any other type of bean – maybe they’re sorted with optical scanning equipment so they get by because they appear to be beans?  That’s my theory anyway.

 

I also look for beans that are small and shriveled, excessively dirty (like a black spot covering a whole side of a white bean), or otherwise look old and mishandled.  Beans that are old won’t cook as well and won’t taste as good.

 

The next step – rinsing – is fairly straight forward.  You can put the beans into a large sieve or colander and run under the tap to clean them well.  This is not optional, unless you’re cool with consuming a nice layer of “field dust,” which could include insect droppings, dirt, etc.  A good rinse will remove a lot of this, and the next step should remove the rest.

 

Soaking — the final step — is also easy, but requires a little more forethought.  It becomes mindless pretty quickly, though, once you work all of this into your  weekly kitchen routine.  I will discuss this in more detail in another post.

 

Do you have a favorite bean recipe?  I’m always looking for new ones!

Yankee Cornbread (dairy-free)

When I moved to the south, I learned that how you like your cornbread reflects which side of the Mason-Dixon you’re from.  I’ve always thought of cornbread as sweet and cakey, but many southerners prefer theirs unsweetened and fried. 

 

Regardless of where your tastes lie, if you need a dairy-free cornbread, this is a good starting point.  It is quite crumbly, but tasty nonetheless.  If/when I figure out how to make it less crumblesome, I’ll gladly let you know – or perhaps you have some tips?  I’m going to try using some of the ingredients that I use as dough conditioners in my whole wheat bread, so I’ll update this if I find something that works!

 

Yankee Cornbread

 

1 cup flour (soft white or AP)

1 cup cornmeal

1/2-3/4 cup sucanat

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1 cup coconut milk (I use Whole Foods 365 organic – don’t shake it and use the creamier portion)

1/3 cup olive oil (to offset the coconut)

 

Combine all ingredients and bake 25 minutes at 400 in a greased/floured round pan.

 

Here’s a piece…

 

cornbread-slice

 

…just make sure to let it cool completely before cutting, or else it is especially crumblesome!

 

 

cb-cu

 

Baked Beans

baked-beans

 

Doesn’t that fuzzy picture make you want to eat some?  My camera batteries decided to die tonight at dinner, and the backups were nowhere to be found.  That’s life sometimes.  But back to the food…

 

Do you have any fun memories associated with baked beans, like a summertime picnic or dinner at Grandma’s house? 

 

My husband fondly remembers eating “beans and wieners” as a child – baked beans with chopped up hot dogs mixed in, for the unschooled.  In fact, he’d been craving this meal for so long that I finally broke down about a month ago and bought some nitrate-free hot dogs and bacon for the express purpose of recreating his salivatory memory. 

 

The baked beans came out so well that I’ve made them three times in the last month.  So I guess it’s time to share!  This recipe is adapted from one in Peace, Love, and Barbecue by Mike and Amy Mills.

 

Baked Beans

 

1 ½ lbs dried white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, navy, etc)

8 strips of bacon (nitrate-free)

1 small onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups ketchup (organic, no HFCS)

½ cup molasses

¾ cup muscovado or brown sugar

2 tbsp prepared mustard

1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp sea salt, finely ground

2 tsp pepper

 

1. Rinse the beans and soak for at least 12 hours (overnight), 24 hours if you have the time.  Drain the soaking water, then cook the beans in a crockpot on low all day or in a large pan on the stove (about two hours).

 

2. When beans are closed to being tender, cook the bacon in a skillet.  Once the bacon is fully cooked, remove it from the skillet and sauté the onions and garlic in the bacon grease until onion starts to change color (this won’t take long).  Remove from heat and let sit until the next step is completed.

 

3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together remaining ingredients, plus the onion, garlic, and bacon grease from step two.  If you want to crumple the bacon, add it in at this step (otherwise, you can wait until it goes in the pan).

 

4.  Drain off most of the cooking water from the beans (you’ll want to leave a little bit to mix in with the mixture in step three), then go ahead and combine everything in the bean pot.  After it is mixed together thoroughly, pour into a 9×13 baking dish and cook in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees until bubbly.

 

Note: You could definitely cook it at a different temperature – I just chose 400 because that was the temperature my cornbread needed.  You are going to eat cornbread with this, right?

Refried Beans: Easier Than You Think!

I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile, but I can’t ever seem to remember to take a picture.  Which is why I have no picture accompaniment – but I’ll add one next time I make this.  After all, Sarah asked for the recipe.

 

Let’s start by saying that I love beans in just about any form.  I’ve eaten beans nearly every day of my life, which is probably why many of my recipes involve them.  I used canned refried beans when cooking them until this last year, though, because it seemed easier.  Not tastier, though, if you’re used to the real thing – and when you’re buying the Amy’s brand, they can be pricey.

 

As with many things I post, this hardly seems post-worthy – but it’s easy, frugal, nourishing, and most of all, flavorful.  The spices really should be added to taste, so please adjust as needed or start with smaller amounts and taste as you go.  This is really just a guideline as to what flavors should be present.

 

Refried Beans

 

1 pound dried pinto or black beans (or mix of both – but the black dominates)

Pinch of asafoetida or epazote

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander seed

Salt and pepper to taste (I use a lot)

 

1. Soak beans for 24 hours (or overnight if that’s all the time you have).  The next morning, drain soak water, add new water and a pinch of asafoetida or epazote, and cook on low in a crock pot all day until dinner time.  Don’t add any of the other seasonings yet – the salt, especially, will slow down cooking time.  (You could also cook the beans in a pot on the stove; adjust cook time accordingly.)

 

2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven, adding the onions when hot.  After onions have softened, add garlic, cumin, and coriander and sauté about two more minutes. 

 

3. Add cooked beans, salt, and pepper.  Mash the beans (still in the pot) with a potato masher until they look the way you like them – Husband prefers not to see a lot of whole bean, so we mash quite a bit – and taste for seasoning.  I’m always needing to add more salt here.

 

Notes:

 

- Chicken broth could be substituted for the water during the bean cooking step.

- If you opt to cook the beans on the stove instead of the crockpot, just sauté the onions and garlic in a small saucepan then add them in with all the seasonings to the cooked beans.  I’ve done this before and it works fine.

- I’ve tried to make this entirely a crockpot thing, but it never seemed to taste as good.

 

So what’s next?

 

Well, following my obsession with sprouting, I’d love to come up with a sprouted and refried bean recipe.  I don’t imagine it would change much except in the cooking time.  So expect that to come soon.

 

Also, I would like to try making them with lard – the most traditional preparation.  I don’t, however, have access to high quality lard (just the hydrogenated stuff at the store – yuck!), and I haven’t yet tried to render it myself. 

 

How do you make refried beans?

Part of the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Citrusy Rhubarb Sauce for Breakfast, Dessert

Is rhubarb showing up in your gardens, CSA boxes, or farmers’ markets yet?  Truly, rhubarb is the bellwether of spring.  Asparagus, too, but ruddy rhubarb makes a more striking contrast with the drabness of winter. 

 

Packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, and even some calcium, rhubarb belongs on any spring menu.  Its tart, celery-textured stalks play well with the sweetness of honey or fruit.  Try this sweet-tart sauce on baked oatmeal or with breakfast porridge, yogurt, or ice cream – including a full-fat dairy product will help the absorption of the vitamin K.

 

rhubarb-sauce

 

Citrusy Rhubarb Sauce

 

3 stalks of rhubarb, diced

½ cup raw honey

1 clementine (zest and juice)

A few dashes of cinnamon (1/4 tsp?)

3-4 whole cloves

 

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat on the lowest heat possible to keep at a very low simmer until the rhubarb softens.  (You can test it by trying to cut it with a spatula – it should fall apart with no resistance.)  Serve warm or let it cool and refrigerate for later, and remove cloves before serving.

 0011

 

I will post a recipe for strawberry rhubarb vinaigrette as soon as local strawberries are available.  This farm, right around the corner from my house, runs a u-pick during strawberry season.

 

What do you like to do with rhubarb?

Part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays carnival.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meatloaf

I have no picture today.  Let’s blame it on how good this was, how fast it went.  No leftovers!  I usually take pictures BEFORE I sit down to eat.  Alas, the four vials of blood drawn from my arm this morning are taking their toll.

 

Meatloaf usually isn’t my thing, but this had just the right flavor.  I also wanted to post something to prove (to two people in particular – you know who you are) that I’m human, and I don’t make every single ingredient from scratch.  Maybe someday, eh?

 

Why the need for a gluten- and dairy-free meatloaf recipe?  Well, normally I use breadcrumbs to bind with the egg, and before my daughter came along I added parmesan cheese.  This isn’t a dish I make too often, but it was Husband’s request, and I like to cook only one dinner.  It’s just easier that way.

 

Meatloaf (gluten-free, dairy-free)

 

1 egg

1-2 tbsp brown teff flour

1 ½ lbs ground beef

¼ cup green bell pepper, diced

½ cup onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ cup ketchup (organic, no HFCS)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

2.  Whisk egg in a bowl, then add teff flour and combine.  Add meat to the bowl and fold the egg mixture into the meat.  I used my fingers – disgusting, but more effective.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and combine well.

 

3.  Press the meat mixture into a greased baking dish.  At this point, you can add some more ketchup to the top of the meatloaf if you wish.

 

4.  Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the middle reads 155 degrees.

 

I hope you enjoy this!

 

Oh, and you know how I said I thought the menu plan would end up getting changed?  Well, I remembered today that we’re travelling this weekend.  So next week will have lots o’ repeats again.  But at least I should have some fun pictures to share!

 

Part of the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Pepper

cauli-cu

 

Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, you name it – just about any vegetable is great roasted.  In The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters sings the praises of roasted vegetables when she explains her guests’ astonishment that all she did was “toss them with a bit of oil and salt and throw them in the oven.”

 

A couple years ago, Husband and I ate dinner at some friends’ house we had just met (shout out to JW!).  I was pregnant with my son, and they made Indian food – a reliable indicator that we would get along well.  Roasted cauliflower was one of the side dishes, and it made such an impression that now my preferred method of preparing cauliflower is roasting.  I wish I could remember how theirs was seasoned, but (unfortunately) the pregnancy fog takes over from there.  Some kind of curry?  I wonder if she remembers. J

 

I usually go Alice Waters’ route when roasting vegetables – tossing them in olive oil and seasoning with sea salt.  Really, it’s a foolproof method for veggie success.  Tonight I mixed things up a bit with fresh lemon and pepper, but this is still so simple that I shouldn’t even be calling it a recipe.  If you try it, though, you will enjoy it.  Because roasting is the formula for gustatory awesomeness.

 

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Pepper

 

1 head of cauliflower, washed

Olive oil to coat

Lemon wedges

Freshly ground pepper

Sea salt

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop the cauliflower into equal bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.  Toss in enough olive oil to coat, but not so much that it pools up at the bottom.  Squeeze a couple of lemon wedges on the cauliflower, add in some freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste, and toss again.

 

2. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet and roast until the edges start browning (20 minutes? I’m terrible about timing).

 

3.  Serve as a side dish with salmon and millet pilaf if your toddler doesn’t eat it all first!

 

cauli-w-dinner

 

Part of Fight Back Fridays and the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Buckwheat Pancakes

buckwheat-pancake-cu

 

Alas, the long-awaited buckwheat pancake recipe!  I really wanted to post a gluten-free pancake recipe, but this is all I’ve got.  Maybe next time I’ll try coconut flour instead, since I’ve had good results with it so far.  Meanwhile, no pancakes for me. L

 

The flour is soaked overnight with milk, sweetener, and yeast to form a sponge.  We had this batch for dinner, though, so it only sat around for about six hours.  Strangely enough, we usually only have pancakes at dinner.  Do you love breakfast for dinner as much as I do?

 

Buckwheat Pancakes

 

Start with the sponge:

 

2 tsp active dry yeast

2 cups warm milk (I used almond milk)

1 tsp sucanat or honey

½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups freshly ground wheat flour (I used hard white)

1 cup buckwheat flour

 

1.  Pour ½ cup of milk into a cup and stir in yeast and sweetener.  Let stand until it is foamy (about 15 minutes). 

 

2.  Combine the yeast mixture, the remaining 1 ½ cups of milk, salt, and flours in a large bowl until everything is well-mixed.  It should look like this:

 

buckwheat-pancake-presoak1

 

Let sit on the counter overnight for breakfast, or start the sponge first thing in the morning to have for dinner.  You want it to look sort of like this:

 

after-rise

 

3.  When it’s time to eat, add to the sponge:

 

2 tbsp sucanat or honey

3 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter

2 eggs

½ tsp baking soda

 

Here’s my little tip: melt the coconut oil in the skillet you plan on using, then pour it into the batter.  This way, you’ve already greased your pan!  Now you’re ready to make the pancakes.  You already know how to make pancakes, right?  Just in case you don’t…

 

4.  Pour a full ladle of batter in the center of a hot skillet.  (The heat, however, should be at medium.)  Turn when it’s nice and bubbly and cook until slightly crispy on the other side.  Enjoy with your favorite toppings!  We’re simple maple syrup or fruit kind of people.

 

buckwheat-pancakes

 

And do you see those blueberries in the picture?  Those are the VERY LAST of my freezer stash.  I’m pretty sure I said I was using these up like a month ago, but I love my blueberries, so I held onto them as long as possible.  I guess I’ll have to wait 3-4 months to get some more!

 

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe?  If it’s gluten-free, please share!

Sausage, Potato and Apple Skillet Dinner

This is such an easy, flavorful meal, but it’s a bit of a splurge (on account of the sausage), so we only have it occasionally.  It’s also best eaten right away – not as leftovers – but you probably won’t have anything left anyway.

 

The original recipe came from one of my husband’s students.  Husband is a high school English teacher and apparently talks about food quite a bit in class.  A few years ago, one of his students brought in a recipe for Sausage Skillet Dinner – reportedly, her dinnertime favorite at home.  Beyond that, I’m not sure of the recipe’s origins, but we’ve doctored it a bit and made it even better.

 

This recipe makes four servings, but it’s easy to adjust – sometimes I just add more potatoes to stretch it.  It’s also not entirely a skillet meal, so I hope that part isn’t deceiving.  It looks like a lot of steps, but it comes together quickly, especially after you’ve made it a time or two.

 

Sausage, Potato, and Apple Skillet Dinner

 

2-3 russet potatoes (or more if using smaller potatoes)

Olive oil (enough to coat potatoes)

Seasoned salt (I will have a recipe for this next week)

1 kielbasa sausage

1 small onion

1-2 small red apples

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp sucanat

½ tsp caraway seed

Parsley to garnish

 

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut two large potatoes into wedges and toss in enough olive oil to coat.  Whether you leave the skin on is your preference – I peeled mine because I wasn’t using organic potatoes.  Throw in enough seasoned salt to your taste, and toss to coat.  Bake on cookie sheets, evenly spread out and not overlapping, until desired crispiness is reached.  Don’t let them go too long, though, or they will be hard – remember that they will still continue to cook once you take them out of the oven.

 

2.  About 15 minutes into the potatoes’ baking, chop the kielbasa into diagonal, bite-sized pieces.  We use sausage with no nitrates, preservatives, etc. – Wellshire and Applegate Farms are the brands we usually go with. 

 

wellshire

 

Brown the sausage in a cast-iron skillet for about ten minutes on medium heat; since this sausage is already cooked, we’re really just heating it through and giving it enough of a browning to make it look mouthwatering.  Yeah!?  Meanwhile, cut onion and apple into wedges.  I left the skin on the apples because these are organic.  Then combine vinegar, sucanat, and caraway seed in a measuring cup and set aside.

 

3.  When sausage is done, remove to a warm platter.  Melt butter in skillet, then sauté onion and apple until apples are just tender.   If potatoes aren’t done yet – which they might not be – just turn off the heat on the skillet until they are.

 

4.  When potatoes are done, add them, along with the sausage, into the skillet.  Give the vinegar mixture a stir and pour over the skillet mixture, tossing it to coat.  Garnish with some parsley (fresh or dried) and serve!

 

skillet-meal

 

I will try to get my seasoned salt recipe up sometime this week, but as usual, I make no promises.  So often, life gets in the way — but thankfully so.  After all, I would have no reason to write if it weren’t for the sweet, quotidienne toils of earthly existence.  Every day is a blessing, and I’m blessed with the everyday.

Pasta e Fagioli

We’re eating from the cupboards this week, and pasta e fagioli is right in line with that! 

 

Traditionally a peasant food, this soup is always made with pasta and beans (hence the literal translation of the name).  I’m not a huge pasta fan – mainly a textural issue, and it’s also pretty nutritionally devoid – but I had some leftover macaroni from my Christmas mac and cheese side dish contribution, and this is the only thing I could stomach it in.  The combination of ingredients here is very flexible and reflects what I had in the house today.

 

The pasta overtook the dish, but I promise there are lots of little white beans in there!

The pasta overtook the dish, but I promise there are lots of little white beans in there!

 

 

Pasta e Fagioli

 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tsp of your favorite Italian seasonings (I used a combination of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil)

2 bay leaves

2 quarts (8 cups) beef bone broth

1 cup cannellini beans, rinsed and soaked overnight

1 cup macaroni (or other small pasta)

1 can diced tomatoes

½ cup green beans (from freezer)

Freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste

 

1. Heat oil in a large pot until it is very hot but not smoking.  Add onions and carrots (you should hear a loud sizzle!), sautéing until soft.  Then add garlic and all the aromatics, sautéing for just a couple more minutes.  I don’t add salt and pepper until later since it interferes with cooking the beans.

 

2.  Add broth and bring to a boil, then add beans and cook until soft.  This step will take the longest – an hour or two, depending on the age and quality of the beans.  This step can be shortened by using pre-cooked beans, but I didn’t have any on hand.

 

3.  When beans are almost soft enough to eat, add pasta to the pot.  You can also add salt and pepper at this step.  If everything is timed well, the pasta and beans should be done about the same time.  Then add tomatoes and green beans to heat through (I don’t like them to be overcooked).

 

4.  Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a dollop of crème fraîche, or eat it simply by itself.

 

Enjoy this inexpensive yet filling dinner!

 

Part of the Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.